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  • Writer's pictureRobert Spicer

Political prisoners

Huey Newton distinguished two types of political prisoner. First, the great majority, he described as “illegitimate capitalists”. These are the unemployables, blacks, browns and poor whites who have no choice, no real method of partaking of the good things of life except by ripping off the system. They have no political consciousness, but their attack upon the property system, motivated as it is by institutionalised unemployment under capitalism, is in a sense political. Second, truly political prisoners: those who, like the Black Panthers, do not accept the legitimacy of the social order. They understand why they are in prison. They recognise that to be a legitimate capitalist is to exploit the oppressed and that to be an illegitimate capitalist will only perpetuate a social order where the privileges of some are based on the poverty and powerlessness of others.

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